Defence chief Ng Chee Meng to retire on Aug 18

Chief of Defence Force Ng Chee Meng (right) will retire from the SAF on Aug 18, fuelling speculation he is likely to enter politics.
Chief of Defence Force Ng Chee Meng (right) will retire from the SAF on Aug 18, fuelling speculation he is likely to enter politics. PHOTO: ST FILE
Army chief Perry Lim will succeed Chief of Defence Force Ng Chee Meng, who will retire from the SAF on Aug 18.
Army chief Perry Lim will succeed Chief of Defence Force Ng Chee Meng, who will retire from the SAF on Aug 18.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant-General Ng Chee Meng, will retire from the SAF, fuelling speculation that he is likely to enter politics.

LG Ng, who took over the helm in 2013, will step down on Aug 18.

Taking over him is current army chief Perry Lim, who will hand over his top post in the army to Chief Guards Officer Melvyn Ong.

Announcing LG Ng's retirement on Friday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in a Facebook post that the 47-year-old is leaving the SAF "on a high, having brought the SAF through many challenges and changes successfully".

Dr Ng said: "Inevitably, there will be questions asked about LG Ng's future plans, particularly, if he is entering politics. Given his tested leadership and proven capabilities, I would not at all be surprised, if indeed he is."

"But I have advised LG Ng, not to be distracted or entertain these queries but to instead focus on important national events ahead, particularly the National Day Parade. There will be a more appropriate time to address interests in his future plans."

Thanking the defence chief for his service in his 29-year-career, the defence minister also said that LG Ng will be awarded the Pingat Jasa Gemilang (Tentera) - Meritorious Service Medal (Military) - this year.

LG Ng has been touted as a potential candidate for the People's Action Party (PAP). Sources said he has been seen by the PAP as a suitable candidate with the potential to be an office-holder. 

If he does stand in the coming general election, which is expected to take place as early as September, he will be the highest-ranking military officer to do so. It will also mark the first time that a defence chief enters politics. 

Over the years, many have been plucked out from the military to join the PAP. They include labour chief Chan Chun Sing and Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-jin who entered politics in the last election in 2011.